Have you ever had just a bad race? Before last Saturday, I'd only had one. -- That was the opening line when I started writing this blog about competing in the XTERRA Triathlon at the National Whitewater Center last Saturday, but it turns out the bike leg of my race was the only bad part. The whole race wasn't a complete toss.
I have to admit that my first bad race was completely my fault. It was 2013, and it actually was also the XTERRA Whitewater Center, too. I'd sprained my ankle the weekend before said-race, and decided I would wait to go to the doctor until after I muscled my way through that triathlon. I was broke as could be, had already invited friends to watch me, and was trying to pull myself up for what I can only admit now was one of the hardest periods of my adulthood (thus far). I didn't finish that race, and not finishing was probably the best decision I made that week.
And even the half-marathon during which I broke my foot wasn't bad; it hurt. There were some miles that I could barely breathe or not-cry, but my dad was with me, and I knew I had to get back to the post-race wine tasting. I even enjoyed the rest of my vacation. It hurt a lot afterwards.
So XTERRA WHITEWATER CENTER 2016
Let's just first admit that one of two thoughts neon-signs it's way across your brain when you read that.
Either, you think, "OH! THAT'S THE PLACE WITH THE BRAIN EATING AMOEBA!"
Or you think, isn't that the tri Angelina always says she isn't going to do if the weather's bad?"
Yes and yes. And yes, there was a magnificent storm the night before. I did it anyway, and I ate my words; I'm pretty sure I didn't inhale the amoeba though.
Okay, but I was ready, and I was excited. I spent the whole week doing smart things like tapering and trying to up my sodium. (I've been cramping despite hydrating.) I mean look at that sexy-ass game face! And my new tri suit that I was sure meant I would go faster!
And the swim was good! I was the third woman out of the water, and the worst part (which I knew going into it) was that we had to run up from the Catawba to the transition site, which I knew would make my time a little slower than I wanted, but that's okay.
The Bike: Part 1
I felt good. I was ready. Did mention that? Also, I know this part of the course really well. I knew it was slick and technical, but I just had to stay on my bike and hydrate for the run.
I didn't stay on my bike, and I didn't hydrate.
I crashed three-times, fast, all within the first two miles. Not kidding. I have the road rash to prove it. And one of my handlebars tried to imbed itself in my thigh, which it didn't. Thank god for my tough thighs!
Oh, and I lost the bite-valve on my Camelbak. That was okay because I had a backup water bottle. Then I lost my backup water bottle right about the time I was giving myself a pat on the back for bringing it.
I decided that every time I had to hobble my way up a damn rooty-slippery hill, I would cheer. Some guy actually asked me if I was racing or out there to help keep everyone going. I took it as compliment.
The Bike: Part 2
The middle of the bike was fun. It was the least technical and least rooty part of the course. (Don't worry; the race planners threw in every black loop they could to make sure it wasn't too easy.) It would have been perfect for hydrating. Instead I ate all of the fuel I'd brought with me; I figured I couldn't hydrate, so maybe I could bribe my body to make it through the run on sugar, sodium, and caffeine.
This was the longest part of the bike, so while I road, Dan went on a run and then practiced taking action shots. See below! He good some badass shots. (I did not include the one of the guy whose trisuit ripped. You're welcome.)
In true goober fashion, when I came out of the woods and saw Dan, I was so happy that I braked! And Dan didn't get a good action shot at all. Fail. I did make a lot of faces though.
The Bike: Part 3
The last section of the bike was on the National Whitewater Center's East Main Trail, and it was hard. East Main is technical, and there are a lot of climbs. Last year, the course ended with the Lake Loop, which is an easy-peasy green loop. East Main is not that. It is really hard. In fact, when I'm training and I want to do a really hard trail run or ride, East Main is where I go. And it feels endless. Did I mention that it was hard? Did I say I was out of water? Oh, and at some point, my bike started making crunch-clank-crunch noises when I shifted, and then, the noises kept going when I wasn't shifting. That sucked. So I got passed by some people and passed some other people, and I finished that damn bike course.
By the time I made it to the run, I was basically thinking, "Well, shit. Who cares!? I'm going to finish this." I knew that I didn't beat my time from 2015; in fact, the swim and the bike took longer this year than the whole triathlon did last year. So I drank a lot of water and moved my feet. I passed some people, and was passed by some other people, and I just kept moving my feet forward. I tried to smile and cheer, and I told the awesome volunteers at the water station "thank you" a lot. I was happy because I was almost finished, and Dan was waiting for me, and my friend, Tamara, was meeting us for lunch. I just kept running. And I have no idea how long it took me or actually how long the run was.
So I finished.
It took me a really long time. After I finished I was laying on the grass, hoping that against all odds I'd at least placed in my age group by default (I still haven't found the actual results), and a woman I'd passed and then who'd passed me, at least a few times, stopped by and said something like,
Your attitude was great out there. You really kept me going. There wasn't a time I passed you or you passed me that you weren't smiling and cheering. Thank you.
And that's what important, right? That's the win. I couldn't race fast, so I had fun. And I tried to help everyone else race well.
As a kid, one summer, I won the 110% award at my summer swim league. Go Chadwick! The award was given to someone who was always swimming or helping or smiling or cheering. I didn't expect it at all, but it's probably one of the awards I'm proudest of. I just spent the whole summer enjoying my swim team and hanging out with my best friends.
And I guess I've just been winning that award every race ever since, so this wasn't a bad race; it just wasn't quite the race I wanted it to be.
Please know that I did go home, rinse off my road rash and cry for awhile. I was disappointed in my performance, and I'm really banged up, but I'm over it. I had a good race. And I couldn't have done it without Dan. Aren't his photographs awesome?